The readings in this Siddur have been collected from a variety of sources. Some of them have unknown authors. If you have information as to the author of a reading or meditation, please let the leader know, so we can correct the error in the next edition.
Opening Readings 2
Readings for Candles and Wine 4
Readings for Kabbalat Shabbat 8
Readings for Shema and its Blessings 10
Readings before Amida 15
Readings before Silent Prayer 18
Readings before Torah Study 20
Readings before Mourner’s Kaddish 24
Concluding Readings 26
Meditations, Theology, Philosophy 28
Popular Inspiration 36
Opening Readings I AM A JEW
I am a Jew because my faith demands no abdication of the mind.
I am a Jew because my faith demands all the devotion of my heart. I am a Jew because wherever there is suffering, the Jew weeps.
I am a Jew because wherever there is despair, the Jew hopes. I am a Jew because the message of our faith is the oldest and the newest.
I am a Jew because the promise of our faith is a universal promise. I am a Jew because for the Jew, the world is not completed; people must complete it.
I am a Jew because for the Jew, humanity is not fully created; people must complete it.
I am a Jew because the faith of the people Israel places humanity above nations, above Judaism itself.
I am a Jew because the faith of the people Israel places above humanity, image of the divine, the Oneness of God.
You and your brother or sister share the same parents. Yet even though your parents are obviously the same people to you and your sibling, give or take a few year, pretty much the same home, same values, social milieu, how remarkable that your relationships with them are profoundly different. The rules of your respective parent-child relationships are poles apart. What you must do to be a good son or daughter is different from what your brother must do. It is like that with religious traditions too. Though we all share a common “parent,” the “rules” of how we must be faithful to that relationship vary from one person and one religion to another. Each is true and holy and proper. Indeed for one person to try to be a good child according to the rules of his brother or sister would be a disaster.
Within its bounds Shabbat is one of the surest means of finding peace in the war-torn realms of the soul. It is one of the basic institutions of humanity – an idea with infinite potentiality, infinite power, infinite hope. Through the Sabbath, Judaism has succeeded in turning its greatest teachings into a day. Out of a remote world of profound thought, grand dreams, and fond hopes – all of which seem so distant, so intangible and so unrealizable – the Sabbath has forged a living reality which can be seen and tasted and felt at least once a week.
We have gathered here this Shabbat to worship and reflect upon the meaning of our lives, and to rediscover that wise purpose without which, our ancestors believed, no one can live.
Shabbat is a day of freedom and peace, a celebration of life and creation. It is the end of the week and its beginning. It is the moment of pause; the refilling of the empty vessel; the renewing of the spirit. It is time to rest, rejuvenate and to reflect upon the universality of life and the common goals of all humanity.
Shabbat is the celebration of the family. It brings us together not as islands unto ourselves, but as a family, a community, a nation. From this, family values are born, love is created and charity is endowed with meaning.
There are days when we seek things for ourselves and measure failure by what we do not gain. On the Sabbath we seek not to acquire but to share.
There are days when we exploit the nature as if it were a horn of plenty that can never be exhausted. On the Sabbath, we stand in wonder before the mystery of creation.
There are days when we act as if we cared nothing for the rights of others. On the Sabbath, we are reminded that justice is our duty and a better world our goal.
This is the reason we have gathered together this morning, both family and friends, to worship, celebrate and share the gifts of this Shabbat… day of wonder, day of peace.
Blessed is the match that kindles the Sabbath lights.
Blessed is the home that reflects the glow of Shabbat.
Blessed is the heart that radiates the warmth of Shabbat.
As these Shabbat candles give light to all who behold them, so may we, by our lives, give light to all who behold us. As their brightness reminds us of the generations of Israel who have kindled light, so may we, in our own day, be among those who kindle light.
-Gates of the House
May our Hearts be lifted,
our spirits refreshed,
as we light the Sabbath candles.
It is better to light just one little candle; all you need is a tiny spark.
If we all gather hands, so the world will be free,
the wonderful dawn of a new day we’ll see,
And if everyone lights just one little candle, what a bright world this will be.
“Shema Yisrael” escapes my lips. My eyes closed and heart open, these words envelop and caress. Hearing my voice echoes and joined by the voices of hundreds, I praise God’s oneness and through that my own Judaism. “Shema Yisrael” escapes from my lips, and my belief in Adonai is proclaimed.
But then comes the hard part.
This was always the hardest commandment for me, and I think this was done intentionally. “V’ahavta.” And you shall love. Other commandments are a little easier. Do this. Don’t do that. But “v’ahavta?” “And you shall love?” A commandment of feeling? I don’t know about that.
My eyes open after the shema, and see the people around me.
Surrounded by dedication and passion, encompassed in a spiritual cocoon of emotive warmth, the words flow as always. “Bechol Levavch.” “With all your heart.”
Looking around, I see what it means. And it is not so hard anymore. For in this spirituality, I find myself and my mission. In this room, I find the love for which I search.
Love God with everything you have: your heart, your soul, your strength. These words I give you here and now, take them to your heart. Teach them to those who follow you. Speak of them often: at home, at work, and on the road; at the beginning of the day and at its end. Hold them like a sacred chant that whispers inside you, spilling out into song. Feel the words in you fingertips, keep them at the front of your mind, in the small space above your eyes. Let them guide your vision to rest in new places; let them soothe and disturb you. Look up occasionally; the words will appear everywhere in the place you call home.
we all stood at the mountain’s base
and we swore ourselves to your commands.
Though Moses stuttered horribly,
we all listened with utmost care
to every Torah word.
It was so good to be gone from Egypt!
But now we are slaves again,